Changed LDS Scripture/Part 16
|By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2011|
|Joseph Smith said His Inspired Version of the Bible, which LDS call the Joseph Smith Translation, and the Book of Mormon were translated or inspired by the Lord. Our last article compared Isaiah 2:1-10 in the Joseph Smith Translation with II Nephi 12:1-10 in the Book of Mormon. This article continues our discussion of Isaiah 2 to give more insight into the kind of changes Smith made in just one chapter of Isaiah.|
Mormons claim that the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) was inspired or revealed by the Lord, yet some changes in the JST add words that don’t clarify the text and sometimes even distort it. Our last two articles discussed Isaiah 2, where such changes were made. Most of the changes in the JST are like that, and are too numerous to even list them all. But there are also significant changes in the JST that add new material that is not in any other translation or in the original Bible documents. Most of the changes we discussed in the JST of Genesis were that type of change.
Isaiah 29:1-10 is addressed to Ariel or Jerusalem in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible as well as in the original documents. It tells of Ariel’s soon coming destruction. However, LDS take the KJV of Isaiah 29:4 out of context and read into it a prediction of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. It says,
- And thou (Ariel) shalt be brought down, and shall speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.
LDS teach that the speech or voice out of the dust or ground is the Book of Mormon, written on gold plates and buried in the Hill Cumorah in New York State. They claim the “familiar spirit” is the voice the former Nephites or ancestors of American Indians who lived in America and recorded their history on the gold plates.
“Familiar spirits” are mentioned 15 times in the Old Testament, and every time it refers to witchcraft or an evil spirit, including in Isaiah 29:4. In that verse Isaiah says Jerusalem will be brought down or destroyed and will speak out of the dust like an evil spirit’s voice produced by a medium which whispers from the dust. In this context the Lord is clearly speaking about Jerusalem’s destruction, so why would He digress in one verse to predict the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in verse 4?
The JST of Isaiah 29:4 says, “And she shall be brought down, and shall speak out of the ground, and her speech shall be low out of the dust; and her voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and her speech shall whisper out of the dust.” Notice that the JST changed “thee” and “thou” (second person pronouns) in the KJV to “she” and “her” (third person pronouns) which indicates the Lord was talking about Ariel or Jerusalem to someone else instead of talking to Ariel. There is a difference between talking to you and talking about you to someone else in every language including the original Hebrew language of Isaiah. All of the original documents of Isaiah 29:4 show that the Lord is talking to Jerusalem not about her to someone else. So, there is nothing to support Smith’s JST “translation” except Smith’s claim that the Lord revealed it to him that way. But surely the Lord knew whether he was talking to Jerusalem or talking about Jerusalem to someone else!
The LDS interpretation of Isaiah 29:4 may actually come from II Nephi 26:16 in the Book of Mormon. In that text the prophet Nephi supposedly foresees the future destruction of the Nephites because of their unbelief. LDS believe the Nephites and Lamanites in the Book of Mormon are ancestors of the American Indians. Second Nephi 26:16 says,
- For those (Nephites) who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them (their descendents) out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust.
It is obvious that the words we italicized in this quotation were plagiarized from the KJV of Isaiah 29:4 even though II Nephi 26:16 refers to the ancestors of the American Indians instead of Ariel or Jerusalem. So, that may be why LDS believe that Isaiah 29:4 is a prophecy about the gold plates of the Book of Mormon that Smith said were buried by the Nephites in the Hill Cumorah in New York State.
LDS believe that Moroni was the last Nephite in the Book of Mormon to record the history of his people on the gold plates, and that he came back as an angel in 1823 to show Joseph Smith where the gold plates were hidden. When Smith “translated” and published the message on the gold plates in English in 1830, it was as if the ancient Nephites were speaking “out of the ground.”
That is a very interesting “prophecy,” but unfortunately nobody saw it until after Smith published the Book of Mormon, so the “prophecy” had as much value as no prophecy at all, because no one saw it until it was “fulfilled!” Supposing someone in 2000 AD claimed they found an ancient document dated around 400 AD in which there was a “prophecy” that in the 21st century AD someone in New York could speak and be seen and heard all over the earth while he was speaking. Since we know that TV makes it possible for someone to do that today we might think this was a great “prophecy.” But if there is no evidence that the document dated around 400 AD even existed before the year 2000 AD, it indicates fraud is involved and it would not really be a prophecy. That is precisely the problem with the Book of Mormon. There is no genuine evidence that it existed anywhere prior to the time Smith produced it. So, anything predicted in the Book of Mormon that was common knowledge in 1830 was history, not “prophecy.”
Any who want to read more about the LDS view of Isaiah 29 can do so in my book, Mormon Claims Answered. Next time we will continue our discussion of Isaiah 29 in the JST.